9 Zines by Black and PoC Artists That You Need to Read Right Now

The Brown Paper Zine and Small Press Fair for Black and PoC Artists ran through January 29th at MoCADA Museum.

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Jan 30 2017, 3:15pm

Images by the author, taken with permission from Brown Paper Zine participants

Zines can cover an array of topics, exploring the personal and political through image, poetry and prose. 3 DOT ZINE’s inaugural Brown Paper Zine and Small Press Fair, which took place over the weekend at MoCADA Museum, was created to exclusively showcase the printed matter of black and PoC artists. “I started the fair as a means to create a community of black and PoC creatives working in print mediums,” explains artist and fair founder Devin N Morris to The Creators Project. “The lack of representation within mainstream fair environments is shocking.” He says, “Zines are easy to make and their content helps sustain many small and large communities where the publications reach.”

“I would like to create a ripple effect for additional platforms like this to exist while also sending the message that these makers have existed and will continue to," explains Morris. Brown Paper Zine’s first fair featured 25 artists, collectives, and small presses of color, that use the zine form to showcase their art and explore intersectionalities of their identities and lived experiences. Here’s our roundup of some of the best zines available at the Brown Paper Zine Fair:

KH by Kevin Harry

KH is a fashion zine that chronicles the ever-changing street style of black and brown New Yorkers. The photo zine, in its third volume, captures POC New Yorkers at festivals like Afro Punk, as well as on the streets across the five boroughs. It’s a celebration of the city’s diversity through fashion and brings visibility to those who are often left out of mainstream fashion magazines. Like Bill Cunningham before him, in the pages of KH, Harry focuses on the details, presenting fashion not as a collection of trends but as small victories of individual expression.  

RUKA by Nontsikelelo Mutiti

Since 2014 the artist Nontsikelelo Mutiti has conducted a study of black hair. The project RUKA (to braid/to knit/ to weave) explores the history of black hairstyles, the way the beauty salon exists as a form of home, and the politics of identity and beauty that are signified by black hair. RUKA also investigates the language of black hair and document the braiding as a time-based practice. In her zine, Mutiti explores how the styling black hair is truly an art form.

SPEAK: Baltimore Artists of Color Share their Experiences in The Music Scene by Lawrence Burney

From the bi-monthly Baltimore focused music and art zine True Laurels comes SPEAK, from the Baltimore native, music writer, and NOISEY staffer, Lawrence Burney. SPEAK’s collection of personal reflections provide unfiltered voice to the underrepresented Baltimore musicians and music venues. One of few independent music media sources in Baltimore, True Laurels brings much needed visibility to the city's artists and unearths firsthand accounts from the local music scene, which is consistently one of the recording industry’s biggest underground inspirations.

Textiles of the Philippines by PJ Gubatina Policarpio and Ida Noelle Calumpang

This coloring book zine features textile patterns from seven different regions—Luzon, Ifugao, Visayas, Mindanao, Tausug, Yakan, and Bagobo—of the Philippines. By presenting the textiles in the form of handpainted illustrations, Policarpio and Calumpang make the handiwork of textile-makers accessible to a large community. The coloring aspect is also educational, in that it allows the colorist to learn how to identity the significance of the textiles by recreating traditional designs from each region. The zine also allows for users to expand on the knowledge gained and create their own colorways within the traditional patterns.

The Tenth Zine by André Verdun Jones, Khary Septh and Kyle Banks

The tagline of The Tenth is "Black, gay and unbothered.” Glimpse inside its pages and you’ll see why: the zine is a mix of fashion editorials, photo essays, interviews, and first person accounts of the world from black gay men. The zine which is formatted like a magazine, has produced “Masters,” “Americana,” and “Hollywood” issues. For its fourth volume, The Tenth delivers a technology issue that features an interview with rapper Azealia Banks and explores tech issues affecting black gay men.

WE ARE BULLET PROOF by Jon Key

The mission of Brooklyn based collective Codify Art is to foreground the voices of people of color. We Are Bullet Proof, the latest zine (and ongoing social project) from Jon Key, one of the collective’s members, remembers people of color who have been killed by police. The zine comes packaged in the form of a single-page of a newspaper. On one side of the page, Key prints an exhaustive list of victims of police violence. On the other side is a manifesto that proclaims, “WE ARE BLACK PEOPLE WITH BLACK SOULS, BLACK MNDS, BLACK HEARTS, AND BLACK VOICES; BLACK VOICES THAT EXCLAIM THAT BLACK LOVE MATTER—OUR BLACK LIVES MATTER.”

#BLKGRLSWURLD by Trifecta Studios

#BLKGRLSWURLD is a series of music zines dedicated to black girls and woman-identifying metalheads. The zine, which recently released a coloring book, chronicles the music scene through prose and pictures. The zine has grown into a podcast and its website, a resource where black metal fans can find a calendar of shows happening in New York City. The zine’s ethos is communicated through its guiding motto: “We define our own blackness. Black punk and metalheads have just as much soul as anyone else!”

Maroon World by Cynthia Cervantes and Travis Gumbs

Maroon World, the recently launched biannual zine, draws inspiration from the Latin American Spanish word “cimarrón,” which can mean “feral animal," "fugitive," or “runaway,” as well as the African men and women who proclaimed themselves “Maroons” after escaping slavery in the Americas and forming independent settlements. Maroon World provides a unique perspective on Latinx and black life by mixing fashion, art, and culture in refreshing ways. Inside volume one, there are fashion editorials that break from convention—one spread features a mother wearing Hood By Air while breastfeeding her child—fashionable art collages, that draw on the history and diversity of Latinx communities, and photo stories that highlight some of the most pressing contemporary issues facing POC communities locally and globally.  

3 DOT ZINE

In 2014, artist Devin N Morris, the founder of the Brown Paper Bag Zine Fair, launched his own collaborative 3 DOT ZINE as a space for artists, writers, and creatives to consider marginalized concerns. The three resulting editions of the zine have operated as a collage that switches together art, identity, and fashion. On the cover of latest issue, there’s a collage work by Morris of the queer rapper, Jay Boogie, floating on clouds, creating space for others to be free. The image serves as an apt metaphor for the community Morris has created through 3 DOT and now Brown Paper Zine Fair.

The Brown Paper Zine and Small Press Fair for Black and PoC Artists ran through January 29th at MoCADA Museum. Click here, for more information.

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